On Saturday, Oct. 29, after a ceremonial recognition of the team’s senior players, the Drew Rangers kicked off against the Susquehanna Riverhawks in a riveting Landmark Conference Game. The first minutes of the game saw some early Riverhawk chances, the closest coming off a headed attempt from a corner. The Riverhawks played with a heavy press, pushing the Rangers onto the back pedal for the first ten minutes. However, the home side soon found their groove and began to return the attacking aggression. Both teams worked strategic plays in and around the defense, playing the ball quickly and maintaining composure when in possession. Fifteen minutes into the game, Drew was blessed with three consecutive chances from sloppy passing by the opposition, the third of which was pounced on by Number 3, Tino Puentes (’25), whose shot beat a diving Riverhawks keeper but curled just inches past the post. Unfortunately, the Rangers were unable to find the net.
The Rangers, then, gained a foothold in the game and began to mount some attacking plays down the left flank. Winger Matthew Agudelo (’24) was able to swing some well-delivered crosses into the box, searching for an awaiting striker, but the Riverhawks goalkeeper held steadfast to his duty. The Rangers maintained possession, knocking the ball around the midfield and driving into the box, but were unable to thwart a rigid Riverhawks defense. The half-time whistle blew with the score level at no goals apiece.
The second half resumed with the Rangers retaining their attacking fortitude, creating numerous opportunities in the opponents’ half and shutting down any counter-attacking threats. Drew’s first real scare of the game came when a Riverhawks midfielder lofted a beautifully weighted long ball over the Rangers’ backline, falling perfectly for a sprinting striker to take a touch and shoot on goal. Fortunately, Drew’s in-form keeper, Calum Erlenborn (’22), got his body down in time to trap the shot under his legs and deny the opposition the lead. With some confidence restored, the Riverhawks looked more menacing. The opposition carved out another scoring opportunity from the left wing, where a striker took a first touch shot but skewed the ball wide, where the Rangers’ defense disposed of the threat.
The Rangers held their ground going into the final ten minutes, fighting to win possession and moving at the opposition’s final third. Chances continued to build up as Agudelo threaded a ball in for striker Kevin Kiernan (’25) to blast a shot on goal, but an excellently-positioned Riverhawks defender made a crucial block to see the ball out for a Drew corner. The in-swinging corner found the head of a Rangers attacker, but the ball looped precariously over the bar for a goal kick. The game seemed to be trickling towards a stalemate until the Riverhawks keeper mistimed a punching clearance on a cross, pushing the ball right into the path of an awaiting Puentes who stroked the ball into the bottom corner for an 85th minute game-winner. Following the goal, the Rangers attackers looked hungry for a second goal to secure the win, demonstrating some impressive skill to twist free of the now-deflated Riverhawks defenders. The Rangers saw out the dying seconds to claim the shutout in a decisive Landmark Conference win.